Author: Ron Graham
In 1Thessalonians 3:12 to 4:12, Paul emphasises holiness or sanctification. He teaches four important points about holiness.
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1Thessalonians 4:3).
Since sanctification or holiness is something God wills, then we would be wise to make sure we understand it and have it.
[Many people teach that since God wills a person's sanctification, then that person is sanctified without having to do anything, and without exercising any choice in the matter. We will see, later in this lesson, that this is not Paul’s view].
"May the Lord... establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1Thessalonians 3:13).
"God who gives his Holy Spirit to you" (1Thessalonians 4:8, 2Thessalonians 2:13).
The verses just quoted show that God takes responsibility and God takes action in seeing that we stand holy in his sight. We must thank God for our sanctification, for we would not have it but for his work in us.
[Many people teach that this is the end of the matter, and we ourselves have no part in our sanctification. It is all of God. This is untrue, as we shall now see.]
"We request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received instruction from us as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), you may excel still more" (1Thessalonians 4:1).
It is not God alone, but also the Christian, who has responsibility and must take action. Look carefully at the phrase, "you ought to walk".
The words "you ought" show responsibility, and "to walk" show action. There is a synergy —a working together— in that relationship with God that is called sanctification. There is a mutual responsibility, and there is co-operation, between God and the one being sanctified. The onus is not all on God.
Holiness or sanctification is connected with priesthood, and we have been made "kings and priests" by the Lord Jesus our Great High Priest and King of Kings (Revelation 1:5-6).
"Abstain from fornication" (1Thessalonians 4:3-7).
"Love one another" (1Thessalonians 4:9-10).
"Attend to your own business and work with your hands" (1Thessalonians 4:11-12, 2Thessalonians 3:10-11).